Presidential Amnesties' Briefer


October 12, 2010 briefer prepared by the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office
Amnesty
An amnesty is an act of grace by the Chief Executive, proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of the laws and concurred by the legislature, usually extended to groups of persons who committed political offenses, and which puts into oblivion the offense itself.

Philippine Presidents have used amnesty to restore unity and harmony in society after divisive issues polarized Philippine society. Notable examples from Philippine history are the proclamations of amnesty in the cases of: (1) Filipinos charged with treason and accused of collaborating with the Japanese during Word War II; (2) rebel organizations such as the Hukbalahap or the Communist Party of the Philippines in the 1940s, 50s, and during the martial law era; (3) and more recently, rebel soldiers who have mounted the coup attempts against the government in 1986 and 1992 (RAM-SFP-YOU). In the case of those accused of collaboration with the Japanese, the amnesty, granted by President Manuel Roxas, extinguished convictions of treason for those tried by the People’s Court. For those involved in the coup attempts of the late 1980s, President Ramos’ amnesty proclamation led Congress to establish an Amnesty Commission to process applications by rebels who wanted to avail of amnesty.
Presidents have also used the power to grant amnesty for other purposes, most notably, to grant amnesties to those tax deficiencies, as an incentive for citizens to pay their back taxes. Such amnesties, however, have a limited duration.
On October 11, 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III issued Proclamation No. 50 granting amnesty to certain active and former personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and their supporters, who have or may have committed acts or omissions punishable under the Revised Penal Code, the Articles of War or other special laws in connection with, in relation or incident to the July 27, 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, the February 2006 Marines Stand-Off and/or the November 29, 2007 Manila Pen Incident and related incidents.
Congress, by a majority of each chamber, will now deliberate on whether to pass a Concurrent Resolution. The amnesty is effective on the date of signing; what Congress is essentially deciding is if it will revoke the amnesty or not. Passage of a Concurrent Resolution is essentially affirmation of the amnesty by each chamber of the legislature.
Under the amnesty in Proclamation No. 50, the concerned AFP personnel and their supporters may apply for amnesty under the Proclamation with the Department of National Defense (DND), which will receive and process the applications and determine whether the applicants are covered. Decisions can be appealed to the Office of the President.The amnesty covers the period of ninety (90) days following the date of the publication of the Proclamation in two (2) newspapers of general circulation.
The effects of the Amnesty are as follows:
(a) To extinguish any criminal liability for acts committed in relation to, in connection with or incident to the July 27, 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, the February 2006 Marines Stand-Off and the November 29, 2007 Manila Pen Incident without prejudice to the grantee’s civil liability for injuries or damages caused to private persons.
(b) To effect the restoration of civil and political rights or entitlement that may have been suspended, lost or adversely affected by virtue of ant executive action and/or administrative criminal action or proceedings lodged against the grantee in connection with the subject incidents, including criminal conviction or any form, if any.
(c) All enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines whose applications for amnesty would be approved shall be entitled to reintegration or reinstatement, subject to existing laws and regulations. Officers of the AFP on the other hand shall not be entitled to reintegration or reinstatement into the service.
(d) The amnesty shall reinstate the right of AFP personnel to retirement and separation benefits, if so qualified under existing laws and regulations at the same time of the commission of the acts for which the amnesty is extended.
Relevant legal precedents:
i) In People v. PatriarcaG.R. No. 135457, September 29, 2000, it was held that the person released under an amnesty proclamation stands before the law precisely as though he had committed no offense. Par. 3, rt. 89, Revised Penal Code, provides that criminal liability is totally extinguished by amnesty; the penalty and all its effects are thus extinguished.
ii) In Vera v. People of the Philippines, 7 SCRA 152, it was held that to avail of the benefits of an amnesty proclamation, one must admit his guilt of the offense covered by the proclamation.
An Amnesty is distinguished from a Pardon as follows:
AMNESTYPARDON
Addressed to political offensesInfractions against the peace of the state
Classes of personsIndividuals
No need for distinct acts of acceptanceAcceptance necessary
Requires concurrence of CongressDoes not require Congressional concurrence
A public act of which the courts may take judicial noticePrivate act which must be pleaded and provided
Looks backward and puts into oblivion the offense itselfLooks forward and relieves the pardonee of the consequences of the offense
Limitations on the exercise of granting Amnesty:
  • It cannot be granted in cases of impeachment [Sec. 19, Art VII of the Constitution];
  • It cannot be granted in cases of violation of election laws without the favorable recommendation of the Commission on Elections [Sec. 5, Art IX-C];
  • It cannot be granted in cases of legislative contempt (as it would violate separation of powers), or civil contempt (As the State is without interest in the same);
  • It cannot absolve the convict of civil liability;
  • It cannot restore public offices fortified [Monsanto v. Factoran, supra.].
A list of Amnesty Issuances:
PROCLAMATION NO. 80
02/28/1987 (1987)
AMNESTY TO PERSONS WHO, IN FURTHERANCE OF THEIR POLITICAL BELIEFS, COMMITTED ACTS PENALIZED BY EXISTING LAWS.
PROCLAMATION NO. 390
9/29/2000 (2000)
GRANTING AMNESTY TO MILF MEMBERS WHO COMMITTED CRIMES IN FURTHERANCE OF THEIR POLITICAL BELIEFS.
PROCLAMATION NO. 405
10/26/2000
GRANTING AMNESTY TO REBELS WHO COMMITTED CRIMES IN FURTHERANCE OF THEIR POLITICAL BELIEFS.
PROCLAMATION NO. 95
01/11/1973 (1973)
DECLARING AMNESTY TO PERSONS PENALIZED BECAUSE OF THEIR POLITICAL OR RELIGIOUS BELIEF.
PROCLAMATION NO. 723
05/17/1996 (1996)
GRANTING AMNESTY TO MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS OF THE RAM-SFP-YOU.
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 299
05/17/1996 (1996)
NATIONAL AMNESTY COMMISSION TO VERIFY, PROCESS, AND DETERMINE RAM-SFP-YOU MEMBERS TO BE GRANTED AMNESTY.
PROCLAMATION NO. 348
03/25/1994 (1994)
GRANTING AMNESTY TO CERTAIN AFP AND PNP PERSONNEL WHO COMMITTED ACTS IN CONNECTION WITH COUNTER INSURGENCY OPTIONS.
PROCLAMATION NO. 213
9/23/1998 (1998)
AMENDING PROCLAMATION NO. 347 (S. 1994) RE: GRANT OF AMNESTY TO REBEL, INSURGENTS, ETC.
PROCLAMATION NO. 1377
09/06/2007 (2007)
GRANT OF AMNESTY TO MEMBERS OF THE CPP-NPA-NDF AND OTHER COMMUNIST REBEL GROUPS.
PROCLAMATION DECREE NO. 206
6/6/1973 (1973)
GUIDELINES COVERING THE JURISDICTION OF MILITARY TRIBUNALS AND CIVIL COURTS.
PROCLAMATION DECREE NO. 497
6/28/1974
GRANTING AMNESTY TO ALL FILIPINO MUSLIMS PENALIZED FOR THEIR RESISTANCE TO AUTHORITIES.
PROCLAMATION DECREE NO. 571A
11/2/1974
GRANTING AMNESTY TO POLITICAL EXPATRIATES.
PROCLAMATION DECREE NO.  1727A
10/08/1980 (1980)
PROHIBITING THE GRANTS OF PERMITS FOR HOLDING PUBLIC RALLIES, ETC. TO PERSON’S FOUND GUILTY OF REBELLION, ETC.
MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR 105
9/26/1989 (1989)
PROCESSING OF AMNESTY MANIFESTATION FORMS OF REBEL RETURNEES.
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 350
3/13/1989 (1989)
GUIDELINES GOVERNING PROCESSING OF AMNESTY MANIFESTATION FORMS OF REBEL RETURNEES.
R.A. NO. 810
06/22/1952 (1952
AUTHORITY OF GUERILLA AMNESTY COMMISSION TO HEAR AMNESTY APPLICATIONS.

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